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  01 November '2012
Medival Kashmir

It is hard to imagine that one day the glistening beauty on earth i.e Kashmir inhabited by a peaceful community can become the bone of contention between India & Pakistan. Some vested interests tried to divide the state on the basis of caste, creed and religion. Now a day the constant strife between two countries has become more political than religious.

Jammu & Kashmir: Geographical History: The area of Kashmir is 2,22,236 sq. Km and located in the north western region of Indian subcontinent. It is surrounded by Afghanistan in the northwest, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab in the south, china in the northeast and by Pakistan in the west. Some of the parts of Kashmir in North and West are illegally controlled by Pakistan, known as Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK). As agreed in 1972, a border called as Line of Control (LOC) divides the two parts. The Aksai chin (eastern part) came under the control of China after the conflict after the conflict of 1962. The predominant religious in the Jammu area is Hinduism and Islam in the Kashmir valley and Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Kashmir: A Major Hub of Hindu & Buddhist Culture: The earliest recorded history of Kashmir by Kalhan begins at the time of the Mahabharata war. In the 3rd century BC, emperor Ashoka introduced Buddhism in the valley. Kashmir became a major hub of Hindu culture by the 9th century AD. It was the birthplace of the Hindu sect called Kashmiri 'Shaivism', and a haven for the greatest Sanskrit scholars.

Kashmir under Muslim Rulers: The misrule, corruption and internecine fighting of the Lohara dynasty provided an opportunity for Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir, who was the first Muslim (Pashtun) ruler of Kashmir and the founder of the Shah Miri dynasty. Jonaraja, in his Rajatarangini mentioned him as Sahamera. He came from Swat (situated in present day Pakistan), the then tribal territory on the borders of Afghanistan and rose to the position of Minister to the ruling Hindu king. At the king's death, Shah Mir married the king's widow and became the ruler of Kashmir reigning for three years as Shams-ud-Din and establishing the Kashmir Sultanate. He was the first ruler of the Swat dynasty which was established in 1339.Shah Mir was succeeded by his eldest son Jamshid, but he was deposed by his brother Ali Sher probably within few months, who ascended the throne under the name of Alauddin.

The subsequent history of the sultanate is a never-ending story of palace intrigues and the constant competition for power between two families, the Sayyids and the Chaks. During one period, 1484–1537, power reverted back and forth continually between the two families, so much so that Muhammad Shah (a Sayyid) had five different reigns and Fateh Shah (a Chak) had three. At this time, the Lodi dynasty of Delhi got involved in Kashmir's politics, although the effect was not long-lasting. Later, the Mughals also got involved. For a short stretch, an army from Kashgar under Haidar Dughlat invaded Kashmir and the sultan had to acknowledge the suzerainty of Saeid Khan of Kashgar. Eventually, after Humayun recovered his Indian empire, Mughal influence once again became paramount, and Kashmir was finally absorbed into the Mughal Empire during the reign of Akbar.

In the 14th century, Islam gradually became the dominant religion in Kashmir, starting with the conversion in 1323 of Rincana, the first king of the Sayyid Dynasty from Ladakh. The Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir lived in relative harmony, since the Sufi-Islamic way of life that ordinary Muslims followed in Kashmir complemented the Rishi tradition of Kashmiri Pandits. This led to a syncretic culture where Hindus and Muslims revered the same local saints and prayed at the same shrines. The famous sufi saint Bulbul Shah was able to persuade the king of the time Rinchan Shah from Ladakh to adopt the Islamic way of life, and the foundation of Sufiana composite culture was laid when Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists were co-existing.

Several Kashmiri rulers, such as Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, were tolerant of all religions in a manner comparable to Akbar. However, several Muslim rulers of Kashmir were intolerant to other religions. Sultãn Sikandar Butshikan of Kashmir (AD 1389-1413) and his minister Saifud-Din are often considered the worst of these.

Kashmir under Hindu Kings: The Kashmir region, in its present form, became a part of the Hindu Dogra kingdom at the end of the First Sikh War in 1846, when, by the treaties of Lahore and Amritsar, Maharaja Gulab Singh, the Dogra ruler of Jammu, was made the ruler of Kashmir "to the eastward of the River Indus and westward of the River Ravi." The Dogra rulers - Maharaja Gulab Singh (1846 to 1857), Maharaja Ranbir Singh (1857 to 1885), Maharaja Pratap Singh (1885 to 1925), and Maharaja Hari Singh (1925 to 1950) - laid the foundations of the modern Jammu & Kashmir state. This princely state lacked a definite boundary until the 1880s, when the British delimited boundaries in negotiations with Afghanistan and Russia. The crisis in Kashmir began immediately after the British rule ended.

According to legend, Raghuvanshi descendant, Agnigarba, who was living as a recluse, came to Nagarkote (Kangra, Himachal Pradesh), in the Shivalik Hills. When the Raja of Kangra came to know about this person's ancestry, he offered him the hand of his daughter and a part of kingdom. The river Ravi was then the boundary of Nagarkote. Agnigarba crossed it and captured some villages in the Kathua area and declared himself as sovereign king. After his death, his son Bayusharva (B.C. 1530-1500) married the princess of Parole (Kathua). The princess was known as Erwan and she died young. The Raja founded a city after her which is still found near Parole, though now a small village and at the 'Samadhi' of the queen, a `Mela' (fair) is held at every `Baisakhi' (13 or 14 April) every year. Bayusharva extended the boundaries up to the river Ujh. Bayusharva's great grandson, Bahulochan was enthroned after his death. He migrated from Erwan and built his fort on the banks of river Tawi. Bahulochan died in a bloody battle with Chadaras, Raja of Sialkot (Shayalkot) and his younger brother Jambulochan (B.C 1320-1290) ascended the throne. In those days the area beyond Tawi (the present city of Jammu) was used for hunting. Tradition has it that one day Jambulochan came to this area and while he was sitting behind a bush to ambush some bird or animal, he saw a lion (a tiger in some accounts) and a goat drinking water from the same pond. This peaceful coexistence encouraged him to found the city of Jammu, which some say is named after him.

One of his descendants, Raja Shakti karan (B.C 1200-1177) introduced the Dogri script for the first time. Another of his descendants, Jasdev founded the city of Jasrota on the bank of river Ujh, and another Raja, Karan Dev built a fort on the banks of the river Basantar. In the early centuries of the first millennium the area came under the sway of the Indo-Greeks, with their capital at Sakala (Sialkot).Among the rulers of Jammu was Raja Ranjit Dev (1728–1780), who introduced social reforms such as a ban on sati (immolation of the wife on the pyre of the husband) and female infanticide.

In 1814, Jammu became part of the Sikh Kingdom of the Punjab, under Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Ranjit Singh bestowed the place as a jagir on Gulab Singh, who belonged to the Jamwal Rajput clan that ruled Jammu. As a jagirdar for the Sikhs, Gulab Singh extended the boundaries of the Sikh kingdom to western Tibet with the help of Zorawar Singh. The Sikh rule was then extended beyond the Jammu Region and the Kashmir Valley to include the Tibetan Buddhist Kingdom of Ladakh and the Emirates of Hunza, Gilgit and Nagar. After the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1846, Sir Henry Lawrence was appointed British Resident and Lal Singh was asked to surrender Kashmir. Under the terms of the Treaty of Amritsar, the British government then sold Kashmir for a sum of 7.5 million rupees to Maharaja Gulab Singh,, who had been a their loyal ally against the Sikhs. Jammu again became an independent Rajput Kingdom under Maharaja Gulab Singh, as per the treaties, Treaty of Lahore, signed between the British and the Sikhs. Maharaja Partap Singh (enthroned in 1885) saw the construction of Banihal Cart Road (B.C. Road) mainly to facilitate telegraph services. One of the main residences of the maharajas was the Sher Garhi Palace in their summer capital Srinagar.





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